PITTSBURGH – It snowed during the Twins’ game at PNC Park on Wednesday, but Kyle Gibson wasn’t there to see it. Maybe he’ll see some Thursday, when he pitches the home opener.
He actually wouldn’t mind.
“Snowing and cold is better than not snowing and cold,” Gibson said, taking a position that few fans would probably agree with. “It’s going to be brutally cold, [but maybe] there is going to be some cool snow, too.”
The occasion provides its own warmth, the righthander said. “Minnesota fans aren’t going to care if it’s 32 degrees or 22 degrees, they’re excited to see a baseball game,” he asserted. “And we’re excited to be going home.”
Especially after having to play a night game that included several innings played with snow swirling around the field. Wednesday’s finale of the two-game series began at 6 p.m. EDT, and even that was a sticking point between these two teams. The Pirates originally scheduled the game for 7 p.m., to the dismay of the visitors from Minnesota, whose own home opener is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Thursday. The Twins asked Pittsburgh to switch the game time to a 1 p.m. start, but the Pirates hoped for a big enough first-week crowd to justify the night game.
A compromise of sorts was reached when the Twins pointed out that, under MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, if the game was scheduled for 7 p.m., and included a flight home longer than 90 minutes, the Twins would not be allowed to schedule a day game on Thursday. The Pirates gave in, but the Twins will still experience a rarity this week: a day game after a night game, with a change of cities in between.
Given the odd scheduling, the Twins sent Gibson to Minneapolis before the game began — he hoped to catch the last few innings on TV after landing — so he can be rested for his start in the home opener.
As the nation’s media marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on Wednesday, Gibson reflected on a personal connection that he and his Twins teammates made during spring training. Before a morning workout in early March, Minnesota players were addressed in the clubhouse by Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights leader.
“I got to talk to him a little while, and that’s a pretty cool experience, getting to hear from the son of somebody who probably changed our country as much as anybody,” Gibson said. “He was a very gifted speaker. I’ve listened to a few Martin Luther King speeches online, and you could almost close your eyes and recognize that this was his son.”
King was in camp on behalf of RISE, an effort to encourage professional athletes to register to vote, and to use their public platform to encourage others to do so. “He shared a little bit of his dad’s experience, and he used it to invoke the importance of the vote in this country, and the importance of exercising that right,” Gibson said. “I wanted to thank him for what his family went through.”
Kinley ready, waiting
Tyler Kinley has waited five years to make his major league debut, so an extra week isn’t any problem, the righthander said Wednesday. It might be harder on his family, all of whom were in attendance in Baltimore over the weekend without getting to see him pitch. His girlfriend has been in Pittsburgh, again with no luck, and Kinley said his mother and brother are planning to be in Minneapolis this weekend.
Eventually, they’ll see him pitch for the Twins, and it’ll be great, right? “It’s going to be everything — to pitch at home, in the opening series, getting to be a major leaguer,” the 27-year-old Rule 5 pick said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”